Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Measuring Women Empowerment: Dissecting the Methodological Discourse

Vijayamohanan, Pillai N. and Asalatha, B. P. (2012): Measuring Women Empowerment: Dissecting the Methodological Discourse.

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As we move from the concept of empowerment to its measurement, it is natural that the complexity in the concept passes into its empirical expression in multiples. The problem is compounded as the concept is a multidimensional one. Several different efforts have been made in recent years to develop comprehensive frameworks delineating the various dimensions of women empowerment. The two types of indicators used almost universally in the empirical literature to operationalize empowerment at the individual or household level are those measuring domestic decision-making, and those measuring either access to, or control over resources. Often, these two aspects merge since indicators on domestic decision-making tend to focus heavily on financial and resource allocation matters. The emphasis on such measures in the empirical literature corresponds well with the emphasis on resources and agency in the conceptual literature, as well as with the frequent equation of empowerment with choice, control, and power. Certainly, there is an intuitive appeal to decision-making and control as signifying important aspects of agency.

The present paper seeks to dissect this methodological discourse by listing the essential elements of the empowerment frameworks developed in selected studies and culling out the indicators frequently used to operationalize empowerment at the individual or household level in the empirical studies.

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